Protein Pairs-Combining Lentils and Legumes with Whole Grains

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Whether you are trying to reduce or eliminate your animal protein intake, cleaning up your diet, or just looking to add variety lentils and legumes are excellent additions to the diet. 

Lentils and legumes  are high in fiber, abundant in B vitamins, iron,  calcium, zinc, magnesium and potassium.  They are low in fat, calories and have no cholesterol–actually, they lower cholesterol especially high fat diets.  And they have high levels of protein.  Unfortunately, most legumes are not completes in their amino acid profile, lacking in adequate amounts of tryptophan and methalinine however, adding the right grain will complete their profile.

Beans and lentils wear dual hats, being both a protein and a complex carbohydrate–something our bodies love.  Their complex nature regulates blood glucose, creating a slow even rise in sugar rather than spiking it as sugars and refined carbs do–wonderful for diabetics.  They contain properties that counter cancer causing compounds in the intestines, they help relieve depression and fortify the body overall.

Chinese Energetics

Like all foods, beans have a post-metabolic phenomenon–what do they do to the body once digested? And each legume and lentil has its own specialty–however we can look at them in a broad perspective.  Beans and lentils nourish the Kidneys and adrenal glands. They encourage growth and stimulate the brain, spine and bone marrow–which are functions ruled by the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine.  They also drain damp excess conditions like edema and obesity.   They are particularly good for those who are overweight or have damp conditions.  They calm the mind, settle the nerves and build muscles.

Overall, beans personality is to help make us adaptable and tolerant–how can you go wrong?

Back to the problem at hand…beans and legumes are an incomplete protein.

No worries, match them to the right grain and you can complete the amino acid profile.  We will look at soy later, as it deserves its own category–let’s look at a few lentils and legumes and their matches.

  Aduki beans
Highly nutritious and tender.  Aduki’s are small, tender red beans that are used extensively in Japanese, Asian cultures and macrobiotic cooking.  They are used in stews, soups, as a sweet bean paste in mochi, and red bean ice cream.   Energetically, aduki’s are neutral, sweet and sour.  They nourish the Heart,  Small Intestines and Spleen–they tonify, astringe and drain.  Fabulous for edema, weight loss and diarrhea.  Stay away from aduki if you are thin and frail.  Combine with barley for the complete protein profile.  Aduki Bean Soup--yum.
  Mung beans
Native to India, these little green beans have become a big part of the Chinese diet.  Energetically, mung beans are cool and sweet.  They nourish and drain excess from the Gall Bladder, Liver, Heart and Stomach.  Very detoxifying use mung beans to treat excess patterns like Summer Heat and high blood pressure and to clear out heavy metals..  They also clear the arteries–wonderful for helping lower cholesterol.   Avoid if you are chronically tired, fatigued have heavy watery diarrhea or are chronically cold.  Combine with barley for a complete protein.
  Lentils and peas
Lentils are members of the pea family, and native to India.  They are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, vitamin A.  The grow easily, don’t need to be presoaked to cook and are the easiest legume to digest.  Great starting point if you are new to legumes.   They are good to eat with wheat or peas to make them a complete protein.  Lentils are neutral and sweet.  They nourish the Heart, Kidneys, Spleen and Stomach. Safe for excess and deficiency conditions.  They stimulate the adrenals and increase vitality.  Combine with wheat berries for a full protein profile.  Peas, Please!
  Black beans
Black beans are used heavily in Spanish and Mexican cuisine.  Native to Spain, these beans are packed with nutrition but are very low in lysine.  Black beans energetically are warm and sweet.  They nourish the Kidneys and Spleen are used for treating Kidney disharmonies, backaches, reproductive issues, weak ankles and knees, and hot flashes.  Rice, which is naturally high in lysine is the perfect match for black beans.
  Garbanzo beans or chick peas
Used in Middle Eastern and Basque cooking, chick peas take a little longer to cook.  They are very high in calcium, iron and vitamin A and potassium.  Chick peas are the stars in recipes like baba ganouj, falafel and hummus. Chick peas are sweet and neutral. They nourish the Heart, Stomach and Spleen. heart and the stomach. They are a good source of unsaturated fats. Craving hummus now?

With a little creativity, lentils and legumes can become a healthy welcome habit in your diet.
Need a few recipe ideas? or cooking instructions?

Be well,

April

 

 

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